Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic ordered the Cybersecurity Bureau to conduct its own investigation on the reported hacking of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

This is based on the January 10th published report by the Manila Bulletin that indicated hackers allegedly gained access to COMELEC servers and allegedly stole crucial files including usernames and personal identification numbers of vote-counting machines (VCMs). The Manila Bulletin Tech News team reported that 60 gigabytes of data was illegally acquired from the servers.

“While the report has been denied by the COMELEC through Spokesperson James Jimenez, it is in the interest of the citizenry and of the country to feel secure in the electoral process. This is why I have tasked the DICT’s Cybersecurity Bureau to immediately and independently investigate these allegations. If indeed information has been stolen, there is still time to make the necessary changes and precautions to ensure a fair, honest, and efficient elections.” Caintic said.

DICT Cybersecurity Bureau Director Jose Carlos P. Reyes asserted that the team is already in close coordination with the Commission regarding the issue:

“The National Computer Emergency Response Team of the Cybersecurity Bureau has been coordinating and assisting the COMELEC Information Technology Department Director Jeannie V. Flororita on this matter.”

“The upcoming elections has highlighted the need to tighten measures in protecting the information gathered from our stakeholders and preventing its use outside the intended purpose. Rest assured, the DICT Cybersecurity Bureau will support the COMELEC to ensure that the integrity of the elections is not compromised by any attempt of data breach,” DICT Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Atty. Kristoffer L. Tiansay said.

Amid the continued concerns for the effect of the alleged hacking on the integrity of the 2022 elections, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) issued orders for the appearance of the concerned parties—COMELEC, Manila Bulletin, and Mr. Art Samaniego, Jr. (Technology Editor & IT Head of the Manila Bulletin)—in a clarificatory meeting on January 25, 2022. 

The COMELEC, for its part, stated last January 11, 2022 that it would release its findings on the alleged hacking before the end of the week.